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Suman Sharma first woman to fly F16 and MIG 35


First woman to fly MIG-35 suman Sharma
Suman Sharma
Suman Sharma, the first civilian woman to fly the F-16IN Super-Viper also became the first woman in the world to fly the MiG-35, just minutes after Rakesh Sharma flew the F-18 Super Hornet on 13th feb 2009 at the Yelahanka air base as part of Aero India 2009.

MiG Aircrafts head Mikhail Globenko: "She is the first woman to fly on the MiG-35. Two reasons convinced us to fly her -- this aircraft is extremely safe and MiG pilots are remarkable. We knew she would be in a safe aircraft and in safe hands. We showed that in 2007 display too. And then we found she was brave, physically fit and ready to take the flight. We have in fact invited her for the Moscow air show in August 2009."

Suman's flight comes in the context of Russian air force not having women fighter pilots at the moment and Russian women not having flown the aircraft. Interestingly, the flight happened on Friday the 13th. "It is a coincidence that we flew her on a military aircraft when we don't have women fighter pilots."

In the rush of personalities that this aero show has seen, Suman who first flew the F-16IN was followed by Abhinav Bindra on the F-16IN and Rakesh Sharma on the F-18. Now Suman herself was back again but this time on the MiG-35.

Suman said MiG authorities were convinced that she could fly as co-pilot and take the gravitational pull as she had already experienced the flight on the F-16 IN. "It was a 42-minute ride and was exciting. We did 20,000 feet at 0.9 mach. The pilot was conversing with me in English and asked me how I felt throughout."

Suman and her pilot did the side rolls and the 360 degree turns and high angle of attack for the manouvres and pulled 7G which has been the highest in this personality-driven flights. "I think the MiG 35 is about power -- tremendous power. You can feel it in flight. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that it is twin engine. The stability and agility seemed remarkable with all the weight."

Its also a colourful aircraft with beautiful blue colour painted on the back. It also has the lean and curvy airframe which makes it appear deadly. The Mikoyan MiG-35 is a further development of the MiG-29M/M2 and MiG-29K/KUB technology. Classified as a 4.5 generation fighter aircraft, the only existing prototype is the third modification of the existing MiG-29M2 airframe which previously served as MiG-29M2 model demonstrator.

The MiG-35 is now classed as a medium-weight aircraft because its maximum take-off weight has increased by 30% which exceeds its previous criteria of classification.

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